By Jim Cox
Times Bulletin Correspondent
LIMA — Crestview 59, Lima Central Catholic 44. That score doesn’t begin to reflect the closeness of Saturday afternoon’s battle, especially considering that the T-Birds actually led 37-36 with six and a half minutes left in the game. The Lady Knights, however, answered with a barrage of three-point plays to pull it out. Crestview is now 9-1. LCC is 7-5.
For the first 21 minutes, the visitors were constantly threatening to pull away, but never could. Crestview had leads as big as eight points and was up 36-28 with 3:08 left in the third quarter. T-Bird freshman Madison Stolly ended the quarter with four straight free throws, however, and it was 36-32, Knights, going into the fourth.
LCC extended that run to 9-0 at the beginning of the fourth on a 15-foot baseline jumper by senior Sydney Mohler and a corner three-point field goal by senior Meredith Shepherd and the Lady Thunderbirds had their first and only lead of the game at 37-36.
It didn’t last long.
Crestview junior Mackenzie Riggenbach buried a three-pointer from the left corner to get the lead back, but Stolly found room inside to tie it at 39.
At that point, the sharpshooting Knights took over and LCC hit a cold spell at the worst possible time.
Junior three-point specialist Terra Crowle drained a three from the right corner, as did Riggenbach. Junior Lindsey Motycka re-entered the game after a lengthy stay on the bench due to foul trouble and promptly hit from underneath on a dandy baseline spin move, then added the and-one to make it 48-39 at the 5:04 mark.
Motycka added a layup via a high-low assist from sophomore Emily Bauer, capping an 11-0 run that lasted only a minute and a half, and just like that, the Knights led 50-39.
Stolly stopped that run with another layup, and Shepherd rattled in a three-ball from straight out, making it a game again at 50-44 with 2:13 left.
Crestview senior co-captain Kirstin Hicks escaped for a layup, however, to put the visitors up by eight with 1:58 left. Three consecutive T-Bird turnovers then turned the game into a Knight parade to the free throw line. Crestview hit 7-of-8 freebies in the last minute-and-a-half to salt it away.
“We knew they liked to pressure the ball,” said Crestview coach Greg Rickard. “We wanted to try to pound it inside because they were so spread out. Then they started to double team inside a little bit. We kicked it out and hit some threes. We’ve got girls that can shoot, and our posts did a good job of recognizing the double-team and kicking it out.”
Riggenbach started the game with a trey from the left wing, then fed Motycka for a layup. Hicks’ free throw made it 6-0, Knights, but that was not indicative of what was to come. LCC got first-quarter threes from Shepherd and senior sub Liz Kidd to keep it close. It was 11-6, Knights, after one.
Stolly, who had seven second-quarter points, and Kidd, who added five in the period, kept the T-Birds within striking distance in the second eight minutes, after which Crestview led 24-18. At that point, Motycka and Stolly had ten points apiece, and Kidd had eight. There was a big difference in team field goal shooting, the Knights hitting 53 percent (9-of-17), the Birds only 26 percent (6-of-23).
Hicks started the third quarter with an eight-foot bank shot, assisted by Riggenbach, to lead by eight, but the lead never got any bigger, thanks mainly to two three-pointers by Kidd. LCC got within 32-28 at the 4:03 mark, but Bauer muscled in a difficult short jumper, and junior Kennis Mercer downed a 15-footer to lead 36-28. At that point the T-Birds went on their 9-0 run to make things interesting.
“Defensively, I thought the first quarter we played really well, the second quarter we played okay, the third quarter we just lost people,” said Rickard. “We knew they had some weapons. They can score. We had some breakdowns. We need to fix those things, but I was proud when we got down by one, we had a nice run right after that. We responded really well.”
For the game as a whole, Crestview out-shot LCC by a wide margin from the field — 51 percent (20-of-39) to 32 percent (15-of-47). Both teams were good from the line — the T-Birds 88 percent (7-of-8 — all by Stolly), the Knights 73 percent (13-of-18). The boards were even at 21 apiece. Crestview had fewer turnovers, 10-12.
Motycka and Riggebach led Crestview scorers with 15 and 12. Stolly and Kidd had 15 and 14 for LCC.
LCC (6-6) won the junior varsity game 33-29. Natalie Snider and Samantha Koenig led the T-Bird scoring with 17 and 10. Brady Guest had 11 for Crestview (6-4).
Score by quarters:
LCC 6 12 14 12 - 44
Crestview 11 13 12 23 - 59
Santaguida 0, Shepherd 9, Mohler 6, Stolly 15, Verhoff 0, Kidd 14
Mercer 7, Riggenbach 12, Bauer 9, Motycka 15, Hicks 8, Crowle 6, Hartman 2, Grote 0